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My Personal Highlights from the 2018 NBA Draft

| June 25, 2018 12:00 am PDT
DeAndre Ayton

The 2018 NBA Draft has come and gone. It’s time for NBA enthusiasts like myself to start grading the teams and figure out who landed in the best situations.

On the flip side, there are teams that I feel dropped the ball and failed to improve when a golden opportunity was staring them in the face.

Being that the draft has ended and I have had some time to let it soak in, I wanted to assess the festivities from Thursday night and give you my highlights.

I want to share my thoughts with you in a brief but organized blog that focuses on what stood out to me. Both the good and the bad will be revealed, and I’ll leave my biases out of the way.

I’m just going to call it like I see it!

I already participated in a group discussion about the 2018 NBA Draft with a couple of basketball gurus, so I have had a chance to see what others are thinking. Now, it’s time to tell you what I am thinking in more detail.

Allow me to start by quickly recapping what went down with the first few picks.

Welcome to the 2018 NBA Draft!

DeAndre Ayton stayed in Arizona after all. Just as expected, Ayton will slide over from Tucson to Phoenix and stay in the Grand Canyon State after he was chosen first overall by the Suns.

No gripes about that, as the big man from the Bahamas has the skills that can transcend a franchise to the next level. The Sacramento Kings had zeroed in on Marvin Bagley III since it was unveiled that they’d be picking second, so again, no surprises here when they took him off the board at 2.

The 6’11” power forward hailing from Duke is a big-time scorer and even shot 40% from behind the arc last season. The Kings have a long way to go in their rebuilding process, and owner Vivek Ranadive is hoping that Bagley can help expedite the process.

The third pick of the draft is where things got interesting.

You can see the difference of opinion between opposing talent evaluators really come into play during the NBA draft. This was evident as early as the third pick this year.

Without judging who’s right and who’s wrong, I can’t fault the Hawks with how they handled their pick, and in fact, I must congratulate them. Frankly, I am in the camp that would have taken Luka Doncic over Trae Young, but guess what?

I am not the general manager of the Atlanta Hawks; I’m only a humble sportswriter who gets to express his beliefs to readers like yourself!

The point is, it was clear from the get-go that the Hawks wanted to get their hands on Trae Young. They wanted the Oklahoma Sooner point guard all along, and they knew that teams behind them wanted to select Doncic.

Rather than just take their guy at 3, they were able to score a sweet deal with the Mavericks that allowed the Hawks to secure a 2019 first-round pick as part of the trade.

So the Hawks got exactly the guy they wanted while simultaneously acquiring a first-rounder in next year’s draft. Whether I agree or disagree that Trae Young was the right pick, the fact that Atlanta got their guy and added an extra pick means they get a pat on the back from me.

My Favorite Pick of the Draft

I’m not going to take the easy way out and just pick one of the top players who is projected to win the Rookie of the Year award.

When thinking about my favorite pick of the draft, I am thinking about the team that did the most with their selection in terms of where the player was picked and how much of an impact he can have next season, as well as down the road.

I immediately look at what the Boston Celtics did down at the bottom of the first round, selecting Robert Williams with the 27th pick.

This sticks out to me as being a major steal, and the NBA scouts tend to agree with me. Over at CBSSPORTS, they had Williams rated as the 16th overall prospect, and I had seen him as high as 12th in other pre-draft rankings.

The big man out of Texas A&M has a wide frame and can provide the shot-blocking presence the Celtics have been lacking.

An aging Al Horford can be the perfect mentor to a young kid who has the talent to be an All-Star at this level. Actually, it’s all the pieces that are in place in the Celtics’ organization that should help Williams ascend into one of the premier rim-protectors in this league.

Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has been a wizard of sorts, as he seems to continually make good decision after good decision.

He picked an unbelievably smart head coach and has drafted tremendous young talent. He traded for Kyrie Irving and was able to lure in Gordon Hayward as a free agent.

I think picking Robert Williams with the 27th pick is just another prime example of Ainge and the Celtics’ franchise doing exactly the right thing.

Who Dropped the Ball?

As much as I love what Boston did in the draft, I am left a bit dumbfounded at what the Washington Wizards did with their two picks. What exactly was owner Ted Leonsis trying to accomplish?

Is he still basking in the glory of his other franchise, the Washington Capitals, after recently winning their first Stanley Cup in team history? Why would he direct the Wiz into selecting two guards when the team is already loaded in the backcourt?

The Wizards lack size and production from the power forward and center positions, and Marcin Gortat will be traded away before the season starts.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are a deadly duo, and Otto Porter has emerged as a legitimate starting small forward in the NBA. The Wizards had a chance to add a skilled big man that could complement this trio, but instead, they opted for Troy Brown Jr., who will be relegated to a backup role at best.

Why take a guard who shot 29% from 3-point land at the college level when there was a 7-footer that can stretch the floor like Mo Wagner who was still available!

Or even the shot-blocker the Celtics took at 27 (Robert Williams) would have made sense and could have helped the Wizards right away.

I think the Wizards badly missed the mark on this pick.

When President Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards were back on the clock for the 44th pick of the draft, surely they would find some help in the frontcourt, right?

Nope. Instead, the Wizards again opted to again take a guard, and this time, they took an 18-year-old kid from Ukraine that won’t even skip across the pond and join the team for at least two years.

The Wizards had a chance to elevate themselves from a middle-of-the-road Eastern Conference team to a squad that could contend for a conference title. However, the draft has come and gone, and the Wizards will, unfortunately, be on the outside looking in thanks to the current makeup of their roster.

With two picks, including one in the top 15, Washington was on the brink of becoming a force in the East. Now, after squandering away those two picks, they’ll just be fighting for a spot in the playoffs.

Who Really Improved Their Roster?

Rather than go with an obvious choice like the Suns or the Mavericks, I’ll go a little further down the board and talk about what the Bulls did during the draft that should have fans in Chicago excited for what’s to come.

General Manager Gar Forman seems more than content with rolling out the backcourt tandem of Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine for the foreseeable future. Head Coach Fred Hoiberg was enamored with what he saw from Lauri Markkanen during his rookie season.

The 7-foot power forward will be entering his sophomore campaign, and it’s not crazy to call this dude a more athletic version of Dirk Nowitzki.

With that being said, the Bulls had 2 picks in the top 22. They needed to pick up an athletic swingman who can play both forward positions, and they needed a big man who can bang inside.

Well, kudos to Jerry Reinsdorf and his staff, because with the 2018 draft, he killed two birds with one stone. In a matter of about an hour, the Bulls picked up Wendell Carter Jr. with the 7th selection and snagged Chandler Hutchison with the 22nd pick.

I’ll start with Carter. How would you like a guy who is 6’10”, 251 pounds, yet he hasn’t even celebrated his 20th birthday? The sky is the limit for Wendell, who shot 74% from the line as a freshman at Duke last year as a big man.

I can see the Bulls plugging this guy in at the 5 position for the next 10-12 years and watching him evolve into an NBA superstar.

Needing to add one more piece to the puzzle at 22, the Bulls chose a 6’7” high-flying specimen that can pretty much do it all. Chandler Hutchison can shoot the ball from deep, he can rebound, he can run the floor, and most importantly, he’ll give you maximum effort the entire time he is out on the court.

Lead Scout Dave Bollwinkel gets the praise for noticing how talented this kid is while other teams were still trying to get a feel for his game.

Opposite of the Washington Wizards, the Bulls exercised their rights to the fullest extent during the draft, and I think they added two pieces that will be around for the long haul.

Concluding Thoughts

Some of the teams hit this draft out of the park. Others, not so much.

The only problem with me making all of these valuations and predictions is that the game of basketball isn’t played on a sheet of paper. It’s played on the hardwood floor between 94 feet, and a lot can happen between now and the end of these rookies’ careers.

The current numbers and opinions can be thrown out the window once the ball is tipped and it’s time to compete.

I could end up being right and being spot-on with my projections and everything I stated. If so, I can be contacted here if any NBA franchise wants to hire me for my superior and undeniable knowledge!

Or I could end up being proven completely wrong, as any player drafted into the NBA is clearly chosen for a reason. Only time will tell!

In all seriousness, there’s no point in continuing to pretend like any of us know what will really happen over the course of the upcoming season or ones down the road. That’s why we all have to tune in to see how it plays out!

Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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